Thursday, November 19, 2009

No bunnies, either! Or kittens! Or puppies!

posted Tue, 14 Dec 2004

It takes so little to make me happy. Hearing Waylon and Willie sing about a good-hearted woman on my new car speakers while I drive through a crisp, clear autumn day, finding some good chocolate in my refrigerator that I had forgotten about, and now, being able to mail a package after work!

Usually, the only time I can get to the post office to mail a package is on Saturday from 10:00 to 2:00, the Saturday hours for the post office by my house. It’s pretty hard for me to get there during the week – I get to work by 7:30, which is before the PO opens, and usually don’t leave before 5:00 or 5:30 (unless my boss is out of town and I think I can get away with it – and, of course, I have everything done I need to have done), which is after the PO closes.

If you must mail Zippy, at least send him FedEx next morning delivery.

Going during the work day takes way too much time – there is not a PO close to my office, so it’s not a quick, easy trip.

So imagine my delight when I discovered a few Fridays ago that my PO has installed an automated package mailing system! I had taken a vacation day just so I could do a bunch of those chores that the world thinks that everyone has a stay-at-home wife to do. One of them was to mail Christmas presents. When I got to the PO, there was a postal worker standing at the machine teaching customers how to use it.

I used it all by myself tonight and I am right proud.

I was fascinated by the questions I was required to answer before I could get my stamp for $4.19 to mail a box of truffles to my grandmother in Medford, Wisconsin.

Was I mailing bleach?

No. It has never occurred to me to spend $0.37 an ounce to mail something that weighs nine pounds a gallon and can be purchased for little more than a dollar a gallon. (That would be 9 lbs x 16 oz/lb = 144 oz, which is $53 at first class rates. Of course, parcel post would be cheaper.) Why on earth would anyone mail bleach?

The more intriguing question was this: was I mailing turtles?

You know they aren’t sitting around at the PO thinking of weird questions to ask. (If they are sitting around, they are sitting around for other reasons.) You know they are asking about things that have actually been mailed before and that they have decided should not be sent through the mail.

What I want to know is why it would occur to the average postal patron to send a turtle through the mail to begin with? Or a snake? That was another question. Was I mailing a snake? I don’t put turtles and snakes in the same class of pets as kittens, but wouldn’t the owner of said animal perhaps have different feelings? If so, wouldn’t you think that maybe putting your pet in a box where it might be stuck for several days – or more – might not be a good idea?

Even if you didn’t have an emotional attachment to the turtle or snake, wouldn’t the whole point of mailing it be that it arrive at its destination alive?

I am intrigued by what is forbidden. In the US, when we are told not to do what seems completely obvious – don’t use a hairdryer while you are standing in a tub of water – is usually because someone has done it, hurt himself, sued the manufacturer and won. Which makes me think that universal suffrage is not such a good way to run a country, but that’s another subject.

In other countries, I have seen signs saying, “Do not urinate here” (on walls in very public places), which means there is a big problem with people (usually men, because it is a little harder for women to urinate in public) urinating here. The “Don’t spit here” signs on the bus in Quito made me very nervous about sitting on the bus seats.

But it is pretty pathetic if we have to get to the point of forbidding people to put turtles in the mail.

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